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Study Resources :: Text Commentaries :: Don Stewart :: Does God Know Everything?

Don Stewart :: Does God Know Everything?

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Does God Know Everything? (All-Knowing, Omniscient)

Does God Know Everything? – Question 1

The God of the Bible has many attributes or characteristics which make up who He is. Among them is the attribute of “omniscience.” What do we mean by this word? In what sense is God omniscient?

The word “omniscient” comes from two Latin words omnis signifying all, and scientia signifying knowledge. When we say that God is omniscient it means that He has perfect knowledge of all things. In other words, He is all-knowing. He does not have to learn anything and He has not forgotten anything that He knows. God does not have to reason things out, find out things, or learn them gradually. He knows everything that has happened, and everything that will happen. This is a basic definition of omniscience.

In addition, God also knows every potential thing that might happen. God even knows those things that humankind has yet to discover. This knowledge is absolute and unacquired. The omniscience of God means that He has perfect knowledge, perfect understanding, and perfect wisdom as to how to apply the knowledge.

The Bible says the following about the knowledge of God.

He Is the God of Knowledge

In the prayer of Hannah, the mother of Samuel, we have the revealed truth that the Lord, Yahweh, is a God of knowledge or a wise God.

“Talk no more so very proudly, let not arrogance come from your mouth; for the LORD is a God of knowledge, and by him actions are weighed.” (1 Samuel 2:3 RSV)

Hannah described the God of Scripture as a God of knowledge.

The psalmist also described the knowledge of God. He wrote it in this manner.

O LORD, you have searched me and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely, O LORD. You hem me in—behind and before; you have laid your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain. (Psalm 139:1-6 NIV)

The God of the Bible is indeed the God of knowledge. According to the psalmist, God knew is actions before he did them, his words before he spoke them and his thoughts before he thought them. Indeed, God knows the entire life of the psalmist. The same holds true for the rest of us; God knows everything about us.

He Has Infinite, or Unlimited, Knowledge

Not only is God a God of knowledge, His knowledge is without limits. The psalmist testified that the Lord’s knowledge is infinite.

Great is our Lord, and of great power: his understanding is infinite. (Psalm 147:5 KJV)

The English Standard Version says,

Great is our Lord, and abundant in power; his understanding is beyond measure. (Psalm 147:5 ESV)

His knowledge is beyond the ability to measure.

John the evangelist also testified that the Lord knows everything. He wrote the following to the first-century believers.

...whenever our hearts condemn us; for God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything. (1 John 3:20 NRSV)

The God of the Bible knows everything.

The Bible clearly teaches that God’s knowledge is without limit. The Apostle Paul declared to the church at Rome.

Oh, what a wonderful God we have! How great are his riches and wisdom and knowledge! How impossible it is for us to understand his decisions and his methods! (Romans 11:33 NLT)

In a moment of praise, the Apostle Paul exalted the Lord for His great wisdom and knowledge. It is indeed wonderful!

His Knowledge Is Not like Human Knowledge

The knowledge that God has is not like the limited knowledge which we human beings have. The Lord made the following comparison between Himself and humanity.

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts. (Isaiah 55:8, 9 KJV)

Notice the comparison between God’s knowledge and our knowledge. It is so vast that no explanation can do justice to the differences. They are as great as can be!

The psalmist wrote about the difference between the infinite knowledge that God has, and the limited knowledge of humans. He records the Lord saying,

These things you have done and I have been silent; you thought that I was one just like yourself. But now I rebuke you, and lay the charge before you (Psalm 50:21 NRSV).

We cannot compare our knowledge to the knowledge of the Lord. Indeed, there is no comparison.

His Knowledge Is Perfect

The knowledge of God is altogether perfect. In the Book of Job, we find that a man named Elihu gave the following testimony to the knowledge of God.

Do you understand how the clouds float, those wonderful works of Him who has perfect knowledge? (Job 37:16 HCSB)

“Perfect in knowledge” is an apt description of God.

No One Can Teach God Anything

The Bible says that God has all-knowledge but we must understand what that means. The knowledge which God possesses is intuitive. This means that He does not have to reason things out or acquire knowledge through observation. His knowledge is immediate.

In other words, it is always there. Because the knowledge of God is perfect, no one can teach Him anything. We read about this in the Book of Job.

Can anyone teach God knowledge, since He judges the exalted ones? (Job 21:22 HCSB)

The obvious answer is “No.” God cannot be taught anything.

Paul stated the same truth in his letter to the Romans. No one can teach God anything, and no one can give him advice. He wrote,

“For who has known the mind of the LORD? Or who has become His counselor?” (Romans 11:34 NKJV)

Neither does God have to investigate anything. Again, we read in Job,

“For He knows false men, and he sees iniquity without investigating.” (Job 11:11 NASB)

Obviously, His knowledge is not like ours.

He Knows Everything Which Is Happening on the Earth

Scripture says that God is aware of what is presently happening here on earth. In the Book of Exodus, we read that the Lord had seen the suffering of Israel on the earth.

Then the LORD said, “I have surely seen the affliction of my people who are in Egypt and have heard their cry because of their taskmasters. I know their sufferings...” (Exodus 3:7 ESV)

The Lord in heaven knew what the people of Israel were experiencing on the earth.

We read in the Book of Job that God’s knowledge is complete. He knew what was going on upon the earth as well as in heaven.

The Bible says the following about this.

“From where, then, does wisdom come? And where is the place of understanding? It is hidden from the eyes of all living and concealed from the birds of the air. Abaddon and Death say, ‘We have heard a rumor of it with our ears.’ God understands the way to it, and he knows its place. For he looks to the ends of the earth and sees everything under the heavens.” (Job 28:20-24 ESV)

The God of the Bible sees everything; nothing escapes His notice. It is comforting to know that God is aware of what is going on in the lives of people here on the earth.

He Can Predict Events Ahead of Time Because He Knows What Will Happen

Because God knows everything that will happen, this allows Him to predict the future ahead of time. We read the Lord saying that He does this.

Only I can tell you what is going to happen even before it happens. Everything I plan will come to pass, for I do whatever I wish. (Isaiah 46:10 NLT)

He plans the future. Whatever He wants to come to pass will come to pass. Therefore, He can tell us ahead of time what is going to happen.

The God of the Bible predicted the following things would happen to Abraham and his descendants. He said,

“Abraham is to become a great and powerful nation, and all the nations of the earth will be blessed through him. For I have chosen him so that he will command his children and his house after him to keep the way of the LORD by doing what is right and just. This is how the LORD will fulfill to Abraham what He promised him.” (Genesis 18:18, 19 HCSB)

The Lord said that a great and powerful nation would come from Abraham because He had chosen to bless the world through this one man. The Bible records that the Lord brought about exactly what He promised. Indeed, a great nation did come from Abraham.

In the writings of Isaiah, we read the Lord saying that He has the ability to announce things which will take place before they occur. He said,

“I am Yahweh, that is My name; I will not give My glory to another, or My praise to idols. The past events have indeed happened. Now I declare new events; I announce them to you before they occur.” (Isaiah 42:8, 9 HCSB)

This is one feature that separates the Lord, the God of the Bible, from all other so-called gods in the world. He declares future events before they take place.

His Eyes See All Things

Scripture speaks symbolically of the “eyes of God” seeing all things. We read the following in the Book of Chronicles.

“For the eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to show Himself strong for those whose hearts are completely His. You have been foolish in this matter, for from now on, you will have wars.” (2 Chronicles 16:9 HCSB)

This makes it clear that the Lord knows everything which is going on upon the earth. His “eyes” see everything.

In Proverbs, we read about the thoroughness of God’s knowledge. He is compared to having eyes everywhere.

The eyes of the LORD are everywhere, observing the wicked and the good. (Proverbs 15:3 HCSB)

“Eyes everywhere” means that He knows every single thing that is going on in every place in the universe. He sees it all.

Jeremiah the prophet recorded the Lord saying that He watches everything, and sees every sin. This means nobody can hide from Him. The Lord said,

I am watching them closely, and I see every sin. They cannot hope to hide from me. (Jeremiah 16:17 NLT)

This makes it clear that nothing escapes His notice.

Zechariah used the illustration of seven lamps as representative of the knowledge of the Lord. He stated it as follows.

“Do not despise these small beginnings, for the LORD rejoices to see the work begin, to see the plumb line in Zerubbabel’s hand. For these seven lamps represent the eyes of the LORD that search all around the world.” (Zechariah 4:10 NLT)

His illustration again pointed to the fact that God knows everything and sees everything that is occurring everywhere.

The psalmist made an obvious conclusion about the abilities of the Lord.

He that planted the ear, shall he not hear? he that formed the eye, shall he not see? (Psalm 94:9 KJV)

Nothing escapes God. He sees everything. Everything!

His Perfect Knowledge Is Denied by the Wicked

Scripture informs us that the wicked question the nature and extent of God’s knowledge. They question how God is able to know everything. We read in the Psalms,

They say, “How can God know? Does the Most High have knowledge?” This is what the wicked are like—always carefree, they increase in wealth. (Psalm 73:11, 12 NIV)

Interestingly, it is the wicked why deny the Most High has knowledge. They believe God does not see their sin. Again, we read in the Psalms.

“The LORD isn’t looking,” they say, “and besides, the God of Israel doesn’t care.” (Psalm 94:7 NLT)

The wicked accuse the Lord of not looking to discover what is going on. In fact, they say that He does not even care what is happening.

However, the Bible makes it clear that God knows what the evil people think. In Job, we read the following.

He knows what they do, so he overthrows them at night, and they’re crushed. (Job 34:25 God’s Word)

The thoughts of evil people are known by God.

God Is Perfect in Judgment Because He Knows Everything

Only a God who is perfect in knowledge would be competent to judge humanity. The Bible speaks of that Day of Judgment when the Lord judges all humanity. For God to judge righteously, He must know all things. The Bible says,

But by the same word the present heavens and earth have been reserved for fire, being kept until the day of judgment and destruction of the godless. (2 Peter 3:7 NRSV)

This is symbolically expressed in God opening the “Books” on judgment day. We read the following in the Book of Revelation.

And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books. (Revelation 20:12 TNIV)

The Lord can judge perfectly because He is perfect in knowledge.

When people realize they will have to stand one day before an all-knowing God, this should cause them to evaluate the way they live their lives. Judgment is coming, and people need to live in light of it. Jesus said,

“...for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.” (Matthew 12:37 ESV)

These are sobering words from Jesus. Because God knows everything the warnings that He gives humankind need to be taken seriously. Since He knows what will happen in the future any warning He gives is for our benefit.

This Is a Comforting Truth for Believers

There is great comfort for the believer in the omniscience of God. In all the problems the believer may face, we are told by Jesus that, “Your Father knows” (Matthew 6:8). This is indeed encouraging.

The Lord searches every heart. In the Book of Chronicles, we read,

“And you, my son Solomon, acknowledge the God of your father, and serve him with wholehearted devotion and with a willing mind, for the LORD searches every heart and understands every desire and every thought. If you seek him, he will be found by you; but if you forsake him, he will reject you forever.” (1 Chronicles 28:9 TNIV)

The believer may rest secure in the knowledge that God knows everything about them. Nothing about any of us will take God by surprise. No one can tell Him anything that would cause Him to cast us out of His presence. He thoroughly knows us. John wrote,

...whenever our hearts condemn us; for God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything. (1 John 3:20 NRSV)

Therefore, we can take comfort in the knowledge of God.

Summary – Question 1
Does God Know Everything? (All-Knowing, Omniscient)

The Bible says that God is has all knowledge. The technical term is “omniscient.” This being the case we need to have a proper understanding of what it means that the Lord has “all knowledge.”

As we examine what the Scripture has to say about the extent of the knowledge of the God of the Bible, several things become clear.

First, God of Scripture is called a “God of knowledge.” He is the God of infinite knowledge. Indeed, there is nothing that He is not aware of. All things which are possible for Him to know, He knows. Nothing escapes His notice.

Furthermore, God is not like human beings in His knowledge. He cannot learn anything, does not need to be taught, and does not make any mistakes. His knowledge is complete and it is immediate. He does not have to think things through or consult with anyone.

God’s knowledge is infinite and perfect. This means that there is no limit to what He knows and His knowledge is always correct. In other words, He is never wrong; He never makes mistakes when it comes to knowing things.

Consequently, He is able to righteously judge humanity. Indeed, God knows the thought as well as the deed. All the facts are known to Him. Therefore, His judgment is always faultless.

His omniscience, or all-knowledge, also allows Him to accurate predict the future. He knows everything that will happen before it occurs. In many cases, He tells us what will take place in the future.

There is great security for the believer in the exhaustive knowledge of God. He knows the need of each and every believer, and He promises to meet those needs. We can certainly rely on these promises.

All those who have put their trust in Him are comforted by the thought of God’s omniscience.

An Examination of the Knowledge of God (Introduction) ← Prior Section
Which Words in the Bible Express the Omniscience of God? Next Section →
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